Without any advance notice, American is increasing the price of “AAnytime awards” for travel effective June 1. This is the price when regular award seats aren’t available.

They are also eliminating their highly valuable, but complicated, distance-based oneworld awards.

US Airways also changes their version of AAnytime awards for travel effective June 1 as well, going to a four-tier redemption chart. (US Airways has had a three-tier award chart for years.) That applies only to the US Airways award chart and not to the partner redemption chart.

There are no changes at this time to American’s saver awards, which is what most of us book and care about.

American’s New AAnytime Awards

I’ve only booked a few AAnytime awards in my life, for instance during a British Airways cabin crew strike when I had a BA first class award I booked a United award as a backup home from London in case my flight was cancelled. It wasn’t, and I refunded the award. It’s a nice option but one I rarely exercise.

And it’s not unexpected. When American introduced their Hong Kong flight, they added a separate zone for the flight and priced their rule-buster style AAnytime awards nearly triple the cost of saver awards.

A year ago I predicted the death of the double miles award (and why the US Airways/American merger will kill it for good). American was the last holdout charging just double miles for last seat award availability offered to all of its members. That’s no longer the case, just as expected. It’s sad, but it’s competitive with other airlines, and indeed in many case their offerings are still cheaper than the competition.

What American has done is implement a three-tier structure for their AAnytime extra availability awards.

The lowest tier is in some cases fewer miles than what we pay now to buy out of capacity controls. The second level is almost always more miles. And the third level doesn’t even specify a price. Level three just says, “*AAnytime Level 3 awards are offered on a few select dates and will require higher number of miles to redeem.

Here’s the new American award chart.

Remember, these are changes just to extra availability awards which apply only to travel on American. Travel on partners is always at the saver level and does not change.

It appears that with these changes there will always be last seat availability at some price. The price may be astronomical but the award will be possible. In contrast, United — at similar high prices — offers last seat availability only to their elite members and co-brand credit card holders. Otherwise MileagePlus has capacity controls even on their rule-buster style awards.

That said, the “*” third tier level is frightening. They won’t commit to a fixed price, and haven’t given us an indication of how it will be calculated. One expects pricing at this level to be rare, and rarely used anyway, but an explanation of what it means would be good.

The Elimination of the Distance-Based Award

I’ve booked the distance-based oneworld explorer award. It provides great value, especially for adding lots of short-distance flights around Europe without spending extra miles and for using extra miles to avoid American’s rather arcane routing rules like not flying via Europe to Asia and not flying via Asia to Australia or via the Middle East to Africa.

But I’ve only booked a few, they’re restrictive in other ways (like having to include only oneworld airlines, and include two of them other than American in the award).

American says they are getting rid of it “since very few AAdvantage members used the awards.” They also explain is as part of aligning policies with US Airways which doesn’t offer such an option, but there’s no reason of course that the alignment couldn’t have simply been to keep this option (with US Airways members getting it when the two frequent flyer programs are combined).

The Elimination of Stopovers

It appears – based on a conversation with an agent, an attempted booking on the AA.com website, and reports elsewhere – that stopovers have been eliminated.

American has permitted stopovers at no additional charge only at the North American gateway city. That meant that if you were flying, say, New York – San Francisco – Hong Kong you could have a stopover in San Francisco. If you were flying Tokyo – Dallas – Austin you could have a stopover in Dallas.

That feature appears to have been eliminated, although I’m waiting for official word on this.

Most people won’t notice these changes

I don’t love these changes, but they’re restricted to the sorts of awards I don’t book or that are fairly obscure.

It matters of course if there winds up less saver award availability than there is today, but we don’t have reason to expect that to be the case especially since saver premium cabin transatlantic award availability on American is already so limited.

The worst part is the loss of the hedge, I liked the idea of the double miles award more than actually using it. And the other component here that’s bad from a trust perspective is that these changes are being implemented without notice.

After all of this I’m still happier with American miles than United or Delta miles.

  1. Redcat said,

    The AAnytime Level 3 pricing already shows around the holidays. 50K miles for a coach one-way award! That takes it to a whole new level and makes even Delta look like a great deal. That’s a 100% increase with no notice.

  2. Jay said,

    Wow…. There was ZERO notice of this. I had long considered booking an explorer award to Australia, and if given some notice would have.

    It’s a joke that changes are made at midnight with NO notice. You really sound like an AAologist glossing over this, especially with your post title.

  3. Angel said,

    Really? Wow…you are being really nice about these changes. Reality is: they suck. But the worst part is the lack of advance notice. This means we can expect anything at any time from AA without any warning. Today is this, tomorrow they’ll remove partner awards or just decide you’ll have to pay 4x more for them. Again, this sucks big time!!

  4. Angel said,

    BTW, I’m in the middle of an Explorer award so there are people out there booking them. Sugarcoating this won’t help in any way, shape or form. Aaaaaaaaaarghhhhh!!!

  5. Brendan said,

    If nobody books them, why feel the need to remove them? The title really makes you look biased

  6. JohnnieD said,

    Well, the elimination of explorer awards is something I would have used.

  7. SG said,

    This does suck. It used to be that if I couldn’t find availability Australia-USA i’d consider booking an explorer award via Asia. Now if there’s no availability I have no choice but to book 2 separate awards. Not happy at all!

  8. CW said,

    Riddle me this, Gary…you see they have stratified their award chart into 5 tiers. What other loyalty program with that many tiers puts the bulk of their awards low (tier 1-2) in the award chart? None that I know of. Point being this – it may have been that AAnytime awards USED to be something that “[I didn’t] ever book”, but why do I feel that SAAver awards are about to become a rainbow-colored unicorn?

  9. AS said,

    Not at all surprising to see Gary author a softball piece on what is a terrible move from a loyalty and trust angle. Hard to dispute that he is totally in the tank for AA.

    And yes, people do use Oneworld Explorer awards and do use Stopovers on one-way awards. So this un-announced devaluation affects real people.

  10. Richard said,

    Gary, you’ve gone to great lengths to strongly criticize those programs that make changes without notice — attacking Delta’s rationale for not providing notice, declaring Wyndham is a program you can’t trust, including a disclaimer on every post about Avianca regarding their tendency to devalue without notice … and when American goes and makes fairly significant changes overnight, you just more or less shrug?

    Simple question: Is AAdvantage still a program you trust?

  11. Rob said,

    This kind of sucks for me as I was waiting for the year to progress to book an explorer award. Oh well .. more proof that frequent flyer miles are a perishable quantity. It would have been nice if there had been warning, though.

    And such is life. Let’s not forget that these programs are kind of a game. That the rules change all the time is just part of the game.

  12. jettyboy said,

    Very disappointing to see you pussy-footing around these changes. By your logic, the DL changes were also not bad because it was very difficult to book low-level awards on DL anyway.

  13. Storm said,

    When Delta made similarly minor no-notice changes to mid-and high-level awards in September 2012, you emphasized that the issue was not the change but the lack of notice:

    “Here, though, it’s not about the specific mileage amounts, however high they may be — and more a concern that Delta chooses to make changes to the prices of its awards without any notice at all, let alone reasonable advance notice.”

    Now, when American does the same thing, you gloss over the lack of notice by emphasizing that the changes only affect awards “you probably don’t ever book” and “most of us book and care about.”

    I agree that these are small changes in the overall program, but your lack of consistency strains your credibility — if lack of notice is a big issue when Delta does it, it should be a similarly big issue (and should receive similar emphasis) when American is the perpetrator.

  14. Ruy said,

    You are being too kind to AA on this particular piece. Zero notice is plain wrong.

  15. farnorthtrader said,

    Honestly Gary, I have defended you many times in the past against haters posting comments, but these last two posts almost make it appear that you are on AA’s payroll. You would have had a hissy fit if Delta had done this and your reaction would have been much more virulent if it had been UA as well. Like I said, I am usually not the cynical one, but this certainly appears to be a case of making sure the Citi Aadvantage credit card dollars keep rolling in.

  16. Patrick said,

    And what do you base your statement of “advantage awards most of you don’t ever book” on? Did you take a survey?

    I don’t do them a lot but it seems there are fewer and fewer mile saver awards available so there are those times when I’ll do a anytime award one way.

    And what is it with airlines and no notice? At least UA gave some notice what it was doing. This is pretty poor form.

  17. boilers said,

    This is awful for those of us that use AAnytime awards for holiday travel as I do. 50k roundtrip per person for a family was manageable. These changes are not.

  18. A. S. said,

    @Gary – I don’t disagree with you often, but this is one of those times. The OW Explorer awards were of huge value and I know many people who used them. To take it away from those “few,” because the large majority doesn’t use them is a weak excuse. What’s the harm or cost in having that option just lying around for when somebody uses it? None to very little, in my opinion. I think they’re being disingenuous. As for the other changes, giving no notice is wrong regardless of how good or bad they are.

  19. Patrick said,

    Just checked out a few routes… STL-SNA/LAX Sunday, Anytime Economy Award is 50,000!!! HA! What a joke. 100% increase!

  20. Owen said,

    I’m considering moving more of my credit card spend to cash back cards. I was hoping to travel on an Explorer award next year with the family. The Citi 100k offer makes more sense, in the context of this devaluation.

  21. Gary said,

    @AS – I agree they were huge value and I’ve written on them before. I gave the explanation on a couple of things and explained above where I think those explanations are wrong. Talking further with American on these changes later this morning

  22. RKToledo said,

    The elimination of the Oneworld Explorer award hurts as someone planning a trip to South Africa and then Mauritius. As a DFW hub flyer, I don’t mind the elimination of NA Gateway stopovers. Hopefully more DFW-OGG awards will now be available.

  23. Gary said,

    @Patrick I very much call out the lack of notice here it’s the biggest issue I have with the changes. And it’s the US Airways way of doing business, in my experience.

  24. Gary said,

    @farnorthtrader – I don’t think this is a positive post or spin on American at all. I’ve got more bad news coming in a bit,too.

  25. Gary said,

    @Ruy – agreed, zero notice is plain wrong. No matter what the changes.

  26. Gary said,

    @Brendan — “If nobody books them, why feel the need to remove them? The title really makes you look biased” There’s no need to remove them, I make that point explicitly in the post.

  27. Michael said,

    This requires a correction. Stopovers outside the US were never allowed. I think you meant to say “could have a stopover in San Fancisco
    “That meant that if you were flying, say, New York – San Francisco – Hong Kong you could have a stopover in Hong Kong.”

    Other than that I agree that aanytime awards are not important but the elimination of explorer awards are a huge blow. I booked about 20 of those in the last year for various people and I must admit that half the agents I booked them with told me they get a request like this about once a year. Having said that the excuse AA gives for eliminating them is as lame as it gets. The real reason is likely that they are quite expensive for them. I am glad I got one in for myself last month because I had a feeling this was going to happen. This was the most valuable and most fun to book award out there.

  28. gobluetwo said,

    @Gary – you wrote: “American has permitted stopovers at no additional charge only at the North American gateway city. That meant that if you were flying, say, New York – San Francisco – Hong Kong you could have a stopover in Hong Kong.”

    I think you meant stopover in SF, not HK?

  29. Greg said,

    Although rarely booked, the loss of the explorer award is a huge loss for the most aspiration type of awards. I booked a business class round the world trip for 220,000 miles several years ago that went from the U.S to South America (including easter island), Europe, Africa, India, and Australia before returning to the U.S. It was a two month trip before taking a new job and was a great experience.

  30. Aaron said,

    Looks like the 100k Citi AA signup bonus and the “Share Miles” Promotion from US Airways were a well timed way to dupe people into hoarding their miles for AA/US. Would be a lot harder today to convince me to get the 100k card and hope that by the time I spend the Bonus miles there weren’t more unannounced plan changes to the program.

  31. abby said,

    @Gary i certainly hope your tone with AA when you talk later isn’t the same you’re expressing here. there was ZERO reason to give ZERO notice on the explorer awards. even a 2 weeks would have allowed those who were deep into planning a chance to book the dream trip they saved for FOR YEARS. explorer awards take planning. AA knows this. what they did was a body blow to people. their ‘trust us’ rhetoric looks like a trap now. it’s shameful. i would hope that someone like you would tell them that.

  32. Gary said,

    @gobluetwo – correct, thanks, fixed

  33. Curtis said,

    The loss of One World Awards is HUGE. They still have the page up on their website showing the breakdowns btw. I wish they would have just raised rates. I don’t believe the excuse of not enough people booking them one bit. If they were, they would have been eliminated a while ago. This was the single best way for the wife and I to see as many places as possible at once (that we really like to do). Now it looks like we will be stuck with booking multiple one-way awards to do the same thing at a much higher mileage requirement.

  34. Curtis said,

    @Michael, stopovers outside the U.S. WERE allowed, but that was taken away a few years ago as well… Nothing but bad changes lately in our world…

  35. Trent said,

    I just lost total respect for you Gary! You have been blasting Delta for months now, and with zero notice from American about these changes is worse than Delta. American is heading down the Delta path and you don’t think most people will notice? We all know this is just the beginning. Maybe you will notice when the next devaluation is implemented without notice from American on saver awards you like to redeem for?

  36. Alex K said,

    Gary – I have to agree with most posters here – this is the softest stance I’ve ever read you take with a program giving absolutely zero notice for making significant award changes. Perhaps you don’t realize how forgiving your tone comes across in this post and the last 90k US North Asia post. It just comes across so very differently from any other zero notice changes you’ve written about, that it’s relatively jarring to read.

  37. Gary said,

    @Trent Huge and No Notice are the lead words in my headline. But some perspective is in order. These changes are indeed to lesser used and less useful (though still valuable) features of the program, and AAdvantage remains far more valuable than Skymiles. So while deserving of criticism, it should be proportional to the change.

    I agree that there will be more changes we don’t like, I could even rattle them off but don’t feel like giving them any more ideas this morning.

  38. TheBeerHunter said,

    I appreciate your level-headed take on this, Gary. Quite unlike some other bloggers I know and love. :)

  39. Autolycus said,

    @Gary, “I’ve got more bad news coming in a bit,too.”

    Uhoh… Partner award chart changes?

  40. dcacoaster said,

    I find the loss of the explorer awards devastating, as that was my ultimate “aspirational” award that I’ve been collecting AA miles toward, and now have enough miles for and was simply waiting for the right time in figuring out scheduling. Now it’s gone with absolultely no notice. I realize miles devalue and you shouldn’t sit on them, but I did expect some notice and window to book prior to a change.

    Given how poor AA is for award redemptions to Europe and Africa, and how rarely I’m able to make the longer trips to Asia, the program has substantially lost value in my eyes, beyond the fact that I don’t trust it any more.

  41. robert weisberg said,

    As I have been saying all along American will be making big changes. Sometimes the Anytime awards were not bad. One thing they may do is expand what falls under the anytime award. Therefore they will say they are not adjusting the award chart but actually reduce the number of lower cost seats.

  42. Brad said,

    Re: “@Trent Huge and No Notice are the lead words in my headline”.

    Yeah, but you don’t once in the whole article say that “no notice” is in any way bad… unlike every single post about a Delta award chart change. Most flyers may not notice these AA changes, but what other changes will AA spring unannounced in the future?

  43. robert weisberg said,

    The email from American makes it sound like everything is great and that the changes benefit all. I never used the explorer awards but you (Gary) and the others mentioned that they thought it might go at some point.

  44. Heels First TravelEven More Changes for American and US Airways Released Today - Heels First Travel said,

    […] US Airways and American Airlines suddenly announced changes to their award charts today.  Here’s a post explaining the changes to US Airways.  And here’s a post explaining the changes to American Airlines. […]

  45. Nick said,

    When they make changes like this it makes me expect to see Milesaver inventory become very limited. This is basically a huge Milesaver stealth devaluation. They haven’t devalued their Milesaver award chart per se, but in effect they have massively devalued it. If you can’t redeem them easily enough at the lower levels your AA points are worth a good 50%-100% less.

  46. CHA said,

    I have used the US stopover to get cheaper pricing on summer awards. If I want to fly from NYC -> CDG in the summer, I was able to drive to BOS and take a BOS -> NYC in the spring, and then take a two month long stopover in NYC until my flight in the summer. This saved 10,000 miles per person. Oh well.

  47. GUWONDER said,

    AA gutted the baggage allowance benefit for AA golds too today.

    Randy Petersen advised the industry and some of its head honchos to make big changes all at once if they were going to make changes of this sort. No surprise today is a mAAssacre, and I doubt it’s all over yet.

  48. Matt said,

    Did AA pay you not to rip them a new one bc I know you’re not this naive. The elimination of stopovers is HUGE bc it completely devalues the off-peak awards. The OW Explorer Award was the best deal in travel — by far. No notice is just unacceptable. A sad day for the miles world.

  49. myb821 said,

    Sorry gary but i agree with everything storm said above.

  50. Sean said,

    American is using #flyoneworld and cross promoting with their partners’ twitter handles (such as @JAL_Official_jp). If we want airlines to know that changing loyalty programs instantly without notice is an unfair relationship, then use both those in your posts.

    If I was a partner of American and I got tons of bad press on twitter because of their lack of loyalty to customers, I’d give them hell about how to handle it in the future. Maybe, just maybe, they’d even respond in a meaningful correction this time.

  51. Curtis said,

    I didn’t fully read the title of your post the first time. I find it very hard to believe that your followers “probably don’t book” the kinds of awards that are affected by these changes. The unannounced part of this is what is really unforgivable. The loss of One World Awards really sucks and is the biggest change in my opinion, but if they announced a change about it I would have been more accepting.

  52. beachfan said,

    Gary, I think the phrase “lesser used” is true backwards looking, but you don’t create a five tier system without a spread of business in the middle tier. USAir actually calls it “middle”.

    You are assuming past availability at lower levels will continue. This was not done just for last seat availability.

    I agree that your heading sugar coats the changes because it projects minimal impact. I’m an AA lover, but the trust is gone, and so is the optimism.

  53. hobo13 said,

    GUWonder wrote:

    “Randy Petersen advised the industry and some of its head honchos to make big changes all at once if they were going to make changes of this sort. No surprise today is a mAAssacre, and I doubt it’s all over yet.”

    I’m frankly sick of the sage of Colorado Springs.

  54. Ethan said,

    AAnytime Awards were actually really valuable to SF/LA/NY flyers. 50k and 65k last-minute one-way awards in the new C/F represented great value to me. It’s obviously a hedge/put/insurance policy (whatever you’d like to call it) for whenever saver space is not available, but it’s a pretty valuable option to have. I’m in full agreement that you seem to have given them a pass here… it’s a pretty lousy deval with no advance notice. Without CX F availability, which seems to be shrinking away pretty fast, these aren’t much better than your dreaded Skypesos.

  55. ff_lover said,

    WOW!WOW!WOW! MAJOR DEVALUATION/GUTTING for American Airlines Award Program. Why Sugarcoat it (I do appreciate you bringing the topic up for discussion)? The N.A. Gateway was a very good option and the Explorer award was a very unique feature that gave AA an unique position. The 100K AA Executive Card just got gutted. I will definitely will be cancelling this AA executive card and not pay the first year annual fee.

  56. Gary said,

    @hobo13 – I do not think that’s true, actually, he observed that in the past programs have waited to be second and often sweep in behind with changes. This is how for instance the Saturday night stay on the saver award came into being years ago, United implemented it first… took a ton of heat.. then Northwest came in behind and did the same thing. United reversed course because of the uproar but Northwest’s members were much more silent because the change wasn’t new.

    I don’t think Randy has advised programs to do this (other than that he may have told Northwest to wait on their announcement 20 years or so ago, or so someone from Northwest told me back in 2003 if I recall correctly) rather he’s observed how these things have worked in the past.

  57. Nick said,

    I see this as a way to restrict Oneworld redemptions on AA metal. Those Avios just got a bit (meaning a whole lot) harder to redeem.

  58. BFrankley said,

    Whether you intend it or not, your tone in this post gives the appearance you are an AApologist. You’ll disagree, but that won’t help your appearance.

  59. Gary said,

    @beachfan I’m not assuming past availability at lower levels continues, actually I talk about in the post that much of this is dependent on whether or not it does.

  60. Gary said,

    @Matt wrote, “The elimination of stopovers is HUGE bc it completely devalues the off-peak awards” well it devalues something that was a pricing glitch and American never intended to offer. ;)

  61. Gary said,

    @Autolycus – no, baggage fee changes

  62. Dan said,


    I have to admit, I actually have used the two AA awards that are getting thrown by the wayside. Over Xmas, I used a standard J award to return from EZE. Next week, I depart on a 3+ week Explorer award circling a bit of the pacific.

    If AA is using the excuse that HGP used when they got rid of the “Escapes” package, I kinda get it. They said that given the rare use of the package, training the agents and keeping them up to speed was more trouble than it is worth.

    I sort of agree — sometimes it is HARD to book an explorer award. Some agents aren’t trained well at all. I’ve had to HUCA a few times, and I shouldn’t. Throw in that if you don’t come armed with seat availability, you can tie up an agent for HOURS. I sorta kinda get why AA might get rid of these for those reasons, but still.

    Although, while the Explorer award also had its “sweet spots” some parts represented terrible value.

    All that said, I’m not sure when I’d book by next Explorer award. It was potentially years into the future.

  63. Mister Selfish said,

    What a sad start to the week. We got great use out of the One World Explorer award – where else could you get 16 stops in Asia & Oceania all in Biz for 180,000 miles? And without head notice – shame on you, AA.

  64. Glenn said,

    Agree with others expressing their disappointment in your post Gary. Traveling with family members I often have to book some AAnytime awards to get first/business. Not everybody travels alone all the time. I’m very upset at the lack of notice and consider the devaluation pretty massive.

    I too would put the appropriate spin on the Citi 100k mile cards and US Air 100% bonus offers now. I will certainly be valuing my AA miles substantially less after this.

  65. Fools said,

    The reason Gary is “pussy footing” is because this is his livelihood. If he tells you that all mileage programs suck now because of crappy availability, make changes with no notice, charge huge YQ, etc., well then you won’t be very likely to click on his credit card links, would you?

    Cue the posts that will say the game goes on and how we’re still better off than before, blah blah blah.

  66. Buddha said,

    He’s just a a very intelligent/over entitled/attension seeking douche. Always has been..what’s the shock. Although,he does provide good information–I’ll give him that

  67. Buddha said,

    Selfies…in a airplane lav…hahhahha..come on..who does that>

  68. ED said,

    No stopovers? Oh that stinks, if true. In fact the “current” stopover policy is less than what it used to be. In the past, travelers could stopover at the International gateway as well, and at the US Gateway for both inbound and outbound.

    I hope the restore the accurate mile award from HKG-NRT to 20K in economy, rather than 40K. 40K in economy for 3400 mile round trip flight with JL and CX direct options is ridiculous.

    Of course, business class if 60K for that route, should be 40K. Ditto with First from 80K to 60K. Not the blue train, just a 3 hour flight.

    Just my opinion. Thanks!


  69. Jessica said,

    For me the elimination of stopovers is HUGE. Living in DFW, I almost book these exclusively. BZE-DFW-CUN in business is only 30k. It’s like 2 for the price of 1. Reduces the value of MY miles by half. Pretty devastating. I am not so upset that AA made the change. I just wish they would have given some notice.

  70. MyTravels said,

    Interesting title (contradiction?)– This is huge, but you probably won’t be impacted.

    I agree with the former (this is huge), and very strongly disagree with the latter. At one time I think you even wrote a piece about the value of rule-buster awards (AAnytime awards for AA) for emergencies, etc, and given the increases in airfares AAnytime have been good values even domestically – which is what probably drove the change and why many readers will be impacted.

  71. Truthiness said,


    After the Delta piece last night, you could at least treat AAdvantage with this same critical eye. These are big deal changes. 1. No advance notice, which is a cardinal sin in the miles and points world. 2. No more free stopover in North American gateway city – also very big, because it literally makes international awards more expensive unless you live in the gateway city. 3. Distance based Oneworld explorer – while many people may not use it, this is a big aspirational award for some travelers. Just because AAdvantage
    says many people don’t use it doesn’t mean it is useless.

    People notice these changes and I think your title is misleading. You should be emphasizing the negative impacts of these no notice changes with italics, bold, and underline, or however else you can demonstrate that this is bad for aadvantage program members.

  72. Greg said,

    Yikes, I knew the merger would be bad which is why I stop chasing even the American Elite wheel this year. Just at 25,000 miles with no more paid trips planned.

    I noticed the last couple two years that there has been a reduction of saver award space. (Try booking DFW-LHR in business for example) I think there was one on July 12th, and two on some Tuesday in November last I checked. So for about 95% of the DFW-LHR award space will be priced at 220,000 to 260,000 miles to fly Dallas to London in business class.

    Which airline has more saver space to Europe now, disAAdvantage or SkyPeso Gary?

  73. Mike said,

    As someone with three OWE awards ticketed but with the miles for several more, I’m concerned that American can simply drop support for these with zero notice. It’s poor form and you should have called them out on it much stronger than you did.

  74. nsx at flyertalk said,

    Zero notice changes are becoming the new industry standard. Now even for AA. How the mighty have fallen.

  75. sriki said,


    I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I lost respect for you. It’s kind of hard to say something that harsh to someone I don’t know a lot about much less ever met. However, I do take issue with the tone of this article and the earlier AA article. This post almost seems mocking at the flood of angry comments that you were expecting in the comments section.

    In general, your content stands at a higher level in this business and people catch on when there is a difference of neutrality. Your posts on Delta and other programs have a tone which most of your readers relate to when they feel they are wronged either by no notice changes, huge devaluations and removal of certain sweet spots.

    When you use words like “you won’t ever book” or say it’s restrictive because you have to use only OW partners, it implies to an already angry crowd that you are giving tacit approval to those changes. You mention that the Oneworld explorer is not used that much. But, reading up on the comments here, though just a subset, tells me otherwise. Count me in that bucket too as I have a trip in May using that and was planning to book another for Asia next year.

    I think a little more outrage at these changes would pacify the mob though ultimately, the loss of explorer is the single most loss I probably ever had and will have as I always know that redemption rates will go up.

  76. Steve said,

    I agree some of these awards were rarely used and probably aren’t going to affect most of us (even the Explorer awards), but the loss of a stopover is huge because I’d wager just about every one of your readers has used this perk in booking award flights. Downplaying that seems ridiculous, especially because it is a huge factor in the value of awards and it was done with no notice. I think your coverage of Delta vs. American based on that change is reflective of some relationship (whether a business one or not) you have with American.

  77. Alex K said,

    Gary – Just to show you what I meant earlier about tone. A couple years back Marriott removed all inclusive rewards with no notice, overnight, just like AA. That’s an award that was likely used significantly less than free stopovers, AAnytime and explorer awards combined. And yet your entire post then focused (correctly, in my opinion) on the method in which the change was made. Contrast that to this morning’s post, and hopefully you can see why many of your loyal readers (myself included) don’t understand your reaction today. Obviously it’s your blog, your business, your opinion; but this time I just don’t get it…


  78. Gary said,

    @Alex K – The difference may be that there were a ton of changes I was trying to understand early in the morning and encapsulate as much useful info as possible into the lead, something may very well have been lost. I am VERY excised about the lack of notice here, I emphasized that today both in a conversation that i had with an AP reporter and also with Suzanne Rubin directly. I’ve got 4 different posts related to American/US Airways changes today versus one single post on the Marriott all-inclusive change. So lots of different angles to look at all of this stuff, but I think the lack of notice appears in all four posts. Believe me, not something I’m intending to come across as under-emphasizing.

  79. Conversation with the President of AAdvantage on Today's Changes and What Comes Next - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] I spoke with Suzanne Rubin, the President of AAdvantage, this morning about the changes that have been announced today. […]

  80. Alex K said,

    Gary – Thanks for the comment and glad to hear the frustration was passed on to the press and AA directly. Looking forward to seeing if you get any substantive responses, especially in terms of notice on future possible (likely?) changes.

  81. LarryInNYC said,

    I’m not generally one to jump on the Internet outrage wagon. Programs with terms that allow them to make changes without notice might, in fact, make changes without notice.

    In the universe of recent program changes, however, I think AA’s abandoning the Explorer award without notice is the worst I’ve seen. That’s because it’s generally an expensive award that people may well have been saving up for. It’s not like they made it a little pricier or more restrictive — they simply pulled it right out from under loyal AA travelers who may have been saving for years. Unlike the off peak stop-over trick where people were arguably gaming the system in ways not intended by the program the Explorer award was a straight-up offer. They should have included a grace period for booking those awards and, even at this late date, they should revise at least that one aspect of these changes.

    And, I do have to say, your tone in face of this change compared to considerably less significant changes in other programs is at least confusing.

  82. Shannono said,

    I can deal with US airway to raise North Asia to 110K but I am very angry about AA eliminate explorer as I am about to book a world trip on this. Now they don’t even give an advanced notice for members to prepare this huge change. Gary, please help to express our voice to AA’s management.

  83. Allen said,

    Did a quick comparison… for people who use AAnytime, this constitutes the following increases in redemption miles: 21% economy, 27% in business, and 42% in first.

    Relative value to be had still redeeming economy + business to mx/carib/central america. And surprisingly, business from nam to hk. first class is horrible through and through.


  84. m henner said,

    I feel cheated.

    I had intended on booking a London to Eugene, Oregon trip in September with a free stopover in New York.

    Now they say I can’t.

    The change was made with no advance notice

  85. italdesign said,

    Gary, I’m curious who you think your loyal readers are. I would think they’re moderately savvy at this game and do take advantage of free stopovers (I agree Anytime awards are of little interest). So to lump them into “awards you probably don’t ever book” seems stramge.

  86. Nick said,

    Gary, I’m super impressed that you were, as you say, able to book an AAnytime award for travel on United Airlines. Who knew?

  87. David said,

    Definitely feel cheated here too about the sudden devaluations.

    The loss of the US gateway stopover is very important to those of us who live in a US geteway to tag on segments.

    Going to start burning my AA miles ASAP

  88. jamesb2147 said,

    Nice chart, @Allen!

    The horse is dead on the tone point. My honeymoon plans are effectively ruined, as I was planning on business to South America. I wonder if this changes the conventional wisdom that AA is best for awards to SA…

    Also, how does this impact award availability for partners? BA used to be able to see all SAAver inventory. How will that work with three tiers? I’m guessing only the lowest… :/

    AA today looks like Delta yesterday. Thanks, Doug Parker.

  89. A Big Lesson Learned for American: Respect Your Members - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] that I’ve had a day to reflect on the changes American announced to their frequent flyer program (not to mention to the US Airways award chart and to checked baggage allowances), more and more I […]

  90. john said,

    this is horrible for the holidays. I paid 35K one way to south america last year. Now its 85K!!!!!!!!!

  91. Ct said,

    @ff lover, @Trent (among others) you’re right!!!
    @DJ: you’re right too but OMAAT didn’t rally his readers and encourage anyone to contact anyone specifically. He should have provided specifics. If he speaks with his good friend suzie rubin I’m quite confident it’s very cordial. He’s not going to risk jack or sh!@ by asking hard questions or expecting her to provide truthful bs-less answers. doesn’t want to jeopardize ExPlat status perhaps. Period.

    So if everyone who feels they’ve been screwed by rubin and company, here you go. And it’ll make more of an impact if actual letters flood her offices. THAT beats lame tweets hands down. If she gets tens of thousands of actual letters, that’s a real pain in the ass, but it gets the point across. If you’ve been screwed,don’t pussyfoot around unless you don’t give a €£¥#.


    And do what fflover suggests, it’s a great idea!!!
    Rubin & Schnook, boy what a team!


  92. Two Changes to Dividend Miles Make US Airways More Like American - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] part of the announced award chart changes, US Airways has eliminated blackout […]

  93. hobo13 said,


    Now that you’ve had a day to reflect, why not call up your buddy at AA (Rubin?) and ask her to reinstate Explorer awards for a week (or even just 24 hours)? If AA was genuinely surprised at the backlash yesterday, they should be willing to do this as a gesture of goodwill. The infrastructure exists, the agents are just as well trained as they were 2 days ago.

    They would probably receive a ton of goodwill from the bloggers (you!) and their frequent flyer community.

    And honestly, how many Explorer awards are going to get booked in a day / week? Is this really going to cost them that much incrementally — the people redeeming for Explorer awards are probably going to redeem high value awards anyway. The miles come off the books either way….

  94. hobo13 said,

    And heck, since they never really publicized the end of Explorer anyway, this can be done with minimal fanfare. Just tell the bloggers, post on FT/MP. No need for a press release, email, etc. Just very quietly allow the awards to be booked for another day/week.

    Seems like this is really simple and a good way to generate some positive PR to cover the hatchet job they are doing to AAdvantage right now.

  95. Ct said,

    I’m willing to bet that not even one person has vehemently expressed in the greatest detail their displeasure, mistrust and outrage to each of the following:


    Commiserating here or any other forum won’t do jack. Not that it’ll change things but at the very least you get your point across their thick skulls.

    I have a client with 3.5+ million miles and they’ve done what I’ve suggested. Not only that, today they’ve purchased* $82k premium cabin tickets for their next trip on a head-to-head AA competitor (versus spending $52k with SuzieQ’s airline). They’ve not only written to the aforementioned douches but have scanned ticket copies showing all the details. I’d like to be with Suzie when she opens that email. :-)

    * Their last minute plans jelled yesterday and decided to book the Explorer Award. They couldn’t confirm it online, so they called. American’s reply? Verbatim: we have three seats available which you can purchase, or you can contact customer relations. (They hadn’t heard of the abrupt change prior to starting their booking). Their response was in essence, “stuff it”. It’d probably make a great MasterCard “Priceless” commercial.

    Let’s see, the net loss on this one transaction is: $??,???.00 ? Hmmmm

    So email, tweet or write if you feel you’ve been, politely put, “done”. And each time you fly, don’t go by way of Aaus then scan and forward your copies. Trivial? Maybe.

  96. Do the American AAdvantage Changes Really Matter? - Hack My Trip said,

    […] Leff put it very well in the title of one of his posts: “…Changes to…Awards You Probably Don’t Ever Book,” though this does […]

  97. Here's Why I Still Trust American AAdvantage. Should You? - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] week American AAdvantage made several changes to its program: Rolling out a new three-tier pricing model for AAnytime awards (paying extra miles when regular […]

  98. Why Last Week's American AAdvantage Debacle Eroded So Must Trust, and How They Can Win It Back - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] week American AAdvantage made several changes to its program: Rolling out a new three-tier pricing model for AAnytime awards (paying extra miles when regular […]

  99. What Additional Changes Can You Expect from American and US Airways? - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] the changes American announced to its frequent flyer program last week many members are wondering what shoe is next to […]

  100. American Reducing the Value of Its Miles: And What That's a Good Thing - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] This has nothing to do with American’s elimination of stopovers at North American gateway cities and distance-based onewor…> […]

  101. American Made Another Change to Their Program On April 8th That They Didn't Tell You About - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] weeks ago American AAdvantage made several changes to its program: Rolling out a new three-tier pricing model for AAnytime awards (paying extra miles when regular […]

  102. Which Airline and Hotel Program is the Best? - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] She humbly acknowledged to members that they have to do better, and promised to do better, than how they rolled out their recent changes. She echoed similar thoughts in my conversations with her. The proof will come soon enough given […]

  103. It's Still Possible to Ask American AAdvantage for Award Space That Doesn't Show As Available - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] A month ago it appeared as though this process to request space had been eliminated, in an unannounced change along with the other changes to the AAdvantage program on April 8. […]

  104. US Airways Makes Changes to Award Chart -- With Advance Notice This Time - View from the Wing said,

    […] already announced back in April. I say this was expected because it’s the new price that was just announced on the ‘other side of the equation’ (American) only two months […]

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